DERRY CITY’S strikeforce in the forthcoming Premier Division campaign will be led by former Bray and Drogheda hitman, Eamon Zayed, who signed a one year contract with the Brandywell club yesterday afternoon.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
The 27-year-old Libyan international will take part in his first pre-season session under Stephen Kenny this morning, the 6’ 1” centre-forward appearing hungry and anxious to force his way back into the goalscoring charts with the “Candy Stripes.”
Indeed, Zayed was due to fly out to Malta last Sunday night to join local side, Hibernian, but he opted to cancel those plans having taken a call from Derry boss, Stephen Kenny, last week.
And he’s no slouch off the field either, the player having graduated with a Masters Degree in Finance last year while representing Sporting Fingal.
Zayed rose to prominence when playing for Pat Devlin’s Bray Wanderers and having left the “Seasiders” to take up an offer from English club, Crewe Alexandria, he returned to Co. Wicklow before transferring to Drogheda United for what continues to be a League of Ireland internal transfer record fee of E80,000 back in 2007
Having won a Premier Division title and a Setanta Cup winners’ medal with the United Park side, Zayed found himself in limbo after Drogheda’s high profile financial collapse in 2009. He was persuaded to join Sporting Fingal in the First Division and having gained promotion to the top flight, he also claimed an FAI Cup winners’ medal while playing at Morton Stadium.
The conclusion of the 2010 season saw the player’s contract with Fingal expire and, in the company of quite a few players, he found himself involved in the PFAI team of unemployed professionals travelling to Norway in search of work.
Unhappy on left
It also became clear last season that he was unhappy operating on the left flank, a position which didn’t suit his strengths, while competing with Gary O’Neill and Glen Crowe for the leading striking role at Fingal.
From Kenny’s point of view, Zayed would prove a “quality signing” and while he agreed that it was not a “like for like” switch for Mark Farren, the Derry boss held the opinion that his new striker had “good attributes” and, indeed, was eagerly “looking forward to a new challenge.”
‘Classic No. 9’
Kenny said: “Eamon is a different type of striker to those we’ve had at the Brandywell over recent years. He’s a classic No. 9 player and one I believe will fit in with what we’re trying to achieve.
“He’s a skilful player with good attributes and when I spoke to him I was very pleased to learn that he had a real hunger to do well this year and he displayed genuine enthusiasm when I made him an offer to join us,” he added.
It’s a position the Derry boss wanted to fill as soon as possible given Mark Farren is not expected to play this season as he recovers from recent surgery, but he was confident that Zayed would prove a positive addition to the squad.
“I’m delighted that we’ve managed to sign him on a 40 weeks contract with comes within our current wage structures,” noted the Brandywell boss. “He will live locally during his one year contract.
“At the moment our only recognised striker is David McDaid with young Sean McCarron attempting to break into the squad, so we were very short in that department. Eamon is hungry to do well, he’s possesses a fair degree of talent and while he’s not a ‘like-for-like’ replacement for Mark, I think he will fit in well.
“He’s over 6 ft. tall and while he holds the ball up well, he also likes to work his way in behind defences. As a striker, he likes to play high up the pitch and I believe his experience will also prove beneficial as we have quite a few young players continuing their development at the Brandywell.”